Archives for category: District of Columbia

This is an astonishing report about the destruction and privatization of public schools in Oakland, California, and the billionaires who facilitated the looting of that city. The article by Eugene Stovall appeared in “Black Agenda Report.” The audacity of this attack on public education is astonishing. The mechanism for the destroyers were graduates of the Broad Academy, known as Broadies. Since billionaire Eli Broad gave Yale University $100 million to take charge of his program, someone should warn Yale about its record.

Read it all. It will take your breath away.

Stovall writes:

Eli Broad (rhymes with “toad”) conconcted a scheme to privatize Oakland’s public schools and produce a revenue stream for his billionaire cronies.

Operating unethically and illegally, Broad managers used their training to cripple and plunder Oakland’s schools.”

Eli Broad is a liberal Democrat. He opposes Trump’s Muslim ban, immigration policies and withdrawal from the climate change treaty. In fact, like Democratic billionaires Tom Steyer and Michael Blloomberg, Broad opposes Trump’s entire right wing agenda. However, just as the Trump Foundation created the Trump University scam, the Eli Broad Foundation created the Broad Superintendent Academy, an educational enterprise that has become so successful that it is now associated with the home of the Skull and Bones Society, Yale University. But despite its aura of respectability, the Broad Superintendent Academy is no less a scam than Trump University.

Billionaires Want More

Eli Broad created two Fortune 500  companies, Kaufmann-Broad Homes and SunAmerica Bank. With an estimated net worth of $6.7 billion, Eli Broad ranks as Forbes  Magazine’s 78th wealthiest man in the United States. But like many billionaires who create mechanisms to increase their wealth, Broad created a “non-profit” academy as his entré into the private education market. The Broad Superintendent Academy attracts applicants who willingly pay exorbitant tuition fees for the chance to get placed in a top management public education position. Broad academy applicants do not need educational degrees or teaching certificates. Neither are they experienced teachers or successful school administrators. The Broad academy is uninterested in strategies for improving student achievement and does not teach its students about fundamental educational issues, pedagogies and methodologies. The Broad academy only indoctrinates and commits its students to the privatization of public education and the generation of revenues for private corporations. Broad Academy attendees are taught the disruptive management tactics needed to ignore “best educational practices.” They are taught how to overcome objections when mandating school closures and school property sell offs to the billionaire-owners of private schools. When Broad placed his academy graduates in management positions at the Oakland Unified School District, they left a trail of fiscal mismanagement, budget overruns and demoralized staff, students and teachers. Operating unethically and illegally, Broad managers used their training to cripple and plunder Oakland’s schools.

The Broadies Who Plundered Oakland’s Schools

In 1998, Eli Broad recruited Jerry Brown, the former Governor of California and a former presidential contender, to become mayor of Oakland. Broad needed someone with Brown’s political clout with the Democratic Party to implement his plan to privatize Oakland’s schools. Broad had been a close personal friend of Jerry Brown’s father, Pat Brown, and had financed all of Jerry Brown’s political campaigns. Now Broad realized California’s top Democrat and his control over the statewide Democratic Party machine gave him a unique opportunity to make money from private education.

Broad’s scheme to privatize Oakland’s public education resources required the support of other billionaires capitalizing on the private education market. Netflix founder, Reed Hastings, a Bay Area resident with a net worth of $3.7 billion, was associated with the multi-million dollar Rocketship Charter Schools. The late founder of The Gap, Don Fisher, with a net worth of $3.3 billion, was associated with the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), one of the largest chains of charter schools in the country. With a net worth of $3.5 billion, John Doerr, partner in the investment firm, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, the firm that brought Google and Amazon to the market, cofounded the New Schools Venture Fund which sucks public school resources into for-profit K-12 corporations. Another critical partner in Broad’s clique of billionaires was the bishop of Oakland’s catholic diocese, a representative of the multi-billion dollar, worldwide Vatican empire. With its profound interest in co-opting public funds and real estate for its own network of parochial schools, Oakland’s catholic bishop gave Broad’s unholy coalition a solid block of votes that not only put Jerry Brown in City Hall, but changed Oakland’s charter into the ‘strong mayor” form of government, that gave “Boss” Brown the power function as Eli Broad’s “bag man.” In return for its electoral support, the diocese of Oakland received a multi-million dollar cathedral on the downtown shore of Lake Merritt.

Once “Boss” Brown controlled City Hall, Reed Hastings went into action. Hastings funded another charter amendment that gave the mayor the authority to pack the school board with his own unelected appointees. Greasing the wheels of the Democratic machine, Hastings financed the passage of a State Assembly bill that permitted charter schools to operate without  accreditation and to hire teachers without  teaching credentials. Then Hastings funded the Proposition 39 campaign to force local school districts to share revenues with charter schools. “Boss” Brown’s buddy, Democratic Governor Gray Davis, who later was recalled on corruption charges, put Reed Hastings on the State Board of Education. In the meantime, Don Fisher gave Jerry Brown’s wife, Gust Brown, the position of CEO over The Gap Corporation.

Getting Control Of The Schools … And The Money

In 2001, the Oakland Unified School District had a $37 million budget deficit. The district’s fiscal managers decided to resolve the shortfall by borrowing from its construction fund, a practice other California school districts in similar situations routinely used. But Brown and Broad saw the school deficit as an opportunity to advance their scheme.

Brown contacted Tom Henry, CEO of the Fiscal Crisis and Management Team (FCMAT), a firm located in Sacramento and staffed by lobbyists and political hacks. Brown used Henry’s services, on occasion, when he was governor. FCMAT did “hit” jobs for anyone willing to pay. Brown paid Tom Henry to prevent Oakland from solving its fiscal problem. FCMAT lobbied the State Attorney General, Bill Lockyer, the former Democratic Assemblyman from Alameda, to rule that Oakland’s plan to borrow construction funds was a violation of state and local law. Then Henry worked with Don Perata, the State Senator for Alameda County, to lobby a bill through the state legislature that forced the Oakland school district to accept a $100 million loan to cover its $37 million shortfall. In addition, the bill put the Oakland school district under the control of a state administrator to be appointed by Jack O’Connell, the State Superintendent of Public Education. When Jack O’Connell campaigned for state superintendent, he received financial support from Eli Broad’s billionaire cabal. Reed Hastings contributed $250,000, John Doerr $205,000 and Eli Broad, himself, contributed $100,000 to O’Connell’s campaign. With the state takeover of Oakland’s schools, O’Connell agreed to appoint anyone “Boss” Brown wanted. Thus Eli Broad and his cronies got complete control over the $63 million slush fund  forced on the Alameda County tax payers. Jerry Brown described the state takeover as a “total win” for Oakland’s schools. In reality, the state takeover was a total win for Eli Broad and his billionaire cronies. For the tax payers forced to repay the loan and for the Oakland school children whose schools were plundered by malicious billionaires, the state takeover was a disaster.

The Table Was Set And The Feasting Began

The Democratic state superintendent of education, Jack O’Connell, appointed Randolph Ward, a graduate of Broad’s superintendent academy, as Oakland’s state administrator. Ward appointed Arnold Carter, another Broad academy graduate, to serve as his chief of staff. Both state administrators appointed a bevy of Broadies  to fill the Oakland school district’s top management positions. Then Ward implemented Broad’s privatization agenda. He closed public schools and opened charter schools. He created additional management positions for Broad academy graduates and issued multi-million dollar consultation and construction contracts to private corporations. Randolph Ward gave Broad’s billionaire cronies complete access to the $63 million slush fund created by top Democrats, Jerry Brown, Bill Lockyer, Don Perata, Jack O’Connell, Tom Henry as well as other members of “Boss” Brown’s Democratic machine.

When the state took over the Oakland schools in 2002, Randolph Ward fired the superintendent, Dennis Chaconas. When Ward resigned in 2006, Broadie Kimberly Statham replaced him. A year later, Statham left and her chief of staff, Vincent Matthews, another Broadie, took her place.

In 2008, Oakland Assemblyman Sandre Swanson broke with “Boss” Brown and introduced a bill to force the state to relinquish its control over Oakland schools. Eli Broad gave a Sacramento lobbyist $350,000 to oppose Swanson’s legislation, but Swanson’s bill passed and local control was returned to the Oakland School Board. In July 2009, the school board hired Anthony “Tony” Smith as the district’s superintendent.

Smith was not associated with Eli Broad. However, even though local school board resumed control over the schools, Eli Broad was not finished, He funded a front group, Greater Oakland [GO], which financed the election of five Broadies to the Oakland school board. In 2014, the Broadie school board forced school superintendent Tony Smith to resign and appointed another graduate from Broad’s academy, Antwan Wilson , Oakland’s next school superintendent, resuming Broad’s decade-long privatization scheme.

A Decade of Corruption

Under Randolph Ward, Oakland Schools struggled with the overwhelming debt imposed by the Democratic Party machine. When Ward left Oakland, millions of dollars went missing with him. Though FCMAT received a multi-year contract to help manage the debt, Tom Henry provided little substantive support, financial or operational. In 2007, Jerry Brown left Oakland for his cattle ranch in Northern California. In its 2007-08 report, an Alameda County grand jury investigation found that the Oakland Unified School District had been looted.

Between 2003 and 2006, Ward shut down 14 public schools and opened 13 charter schools. He increased the district’s shortfall by nearly $15 million. Ward’s successor, Kimberly Statham, another Broadie, opened 4 charter schools and Broadie Vincent Matthews, who followed Stratham as state administrator, opened 9 charter schools. Under state control, the district’s debt ballooned from $37 million to $89 million while school enrollment, the district’s primary source of funding, dropped from 55,000 in 2002 to 38,000 in 2009. When Assemblyman Sandré Swanson forced the state to return local control, Oakland’s schools had $5.6 million less than what was reported and a total of $9 million unaccounted for and completely missing. But with the return of local control, the district’s fiscal mismanagement problems only worsened. Eli Broad now directed his Broadie school board to support his schemes. 

Antwan Wilson: The Most Corrupt Broadie Of Them All 

When the Broadie school board replaced Tony Smith with Antwan Wilson, it hired a thoroughly corrupt, incompetent and morally reprehensible superintendent to run the Oakland Unified School District. Ignoring all budgetary, ethical and legal constraints, Wilson zealously implemented Broad’sprivatization plan. Wilson overspent the school district budget by overpaying Broadie administrators and conniving with Broadie consultants. In 2015, though the school board authorized only $10.4 million, Wilson paid consultants $22.6 million. The board approved only $7.1 million for administrators and supervisors, but Wilson spent $22.3 million. From July 2014 to January 2015, Wilson spent $22.3 million on district office managers while Smith spent only $13.1 million the entire previous year. From 2013-2014, Tony Smith spent $10 million on classified managers, but in 2015-2016, Antwan Wilson spent $22.3 million. Under Wilson, the number of students shrunk, but spending for administrators and supervisors with teaching certificates grew from $13.9 million in 2013-2014 to $20 million in 2015-2016. Wilson increased spending on outside consultants from $22.7 million in 2013-2014 to $28.3 million in 2016-2017. In Wilson’s last year with Oakland schools, he exceeded the budget for consultants by 32 percent.

These revelations galvanized Tom Henry’s FCMAT into action. Henry immediately lobbied for another state take over even as he collaborated with the Broadie school board to close even more schools and make even more valuable real estate available to billionaire-owned charter schools. But without Boss Brown’s backing, Henry was unsuccessful in getting Governor Gavin Newson’s support for another state takeover.

Open the article and read the ending. It doesn’t get better for the students of Oakland. Eli Broad, Jerry Brown, and their allies used Oakland as their Petri dish. Oakland was raided and looted. Antwan Wilson left Oakland to become chancellor of the D.C.schools, where he was booted out after seeking preferential treatment for his own child. Upon Wilson’s abrupt departure, the mayor of D.C. replaced him with Lewis Ferebee, superintendent of Indianapolis, who is also a graduate of the Broad Academy.


Parents, students, and local officials plead with Chancellor Lewis Ferebee:


No student was ever helped by closing schools!

Stop the mayhem.

Stop the pointless disruption!

Support the school, don’t kill it.

Do not pave the way for gentrification and more charter schools.


In thinking back over the past decade, Peter Greene realized that Michelle Rhee was one of its defining figures.

For a time, she was everywhere. The media loved her stern and angry visage. She graced the cover of TIME and NEWSWEEK. She appeared on the Oprah show, NBC’s Education Nation, “Waiting for Superman.” And then she was gone.

For years, she was the face of the “reform” movement, a crusader set on busting unions, firing teachers and principals, and leading the way to nirvana. At one point, she boldly predicted that she would turn the public schools of D.C. into the best in the nation. After Mayor Adrian Fenty lost his race in 2010, Rhee stepped down as chancellor of the D.C.schools and launched StudentsFirst, which was anti-union, pro-testing, pro-Charter, and pro-voucher. Then it disappeared, never having raised the $1 billion she predicted.

Now the face of that same movement is Betsy DeVos, and the media doesn’t love her the way they loved Rhee, even though their goals are identical.

Like many of the big names in education disruption in the oughts, Rhee skated on sheer chutzpah. There was no good reason for her to believe that she knew what the heck she was doing, but she was by-God certain that her outsider “expertise” was right and that all she needed to create success was the unbridled freedom to exert her will.

And in 2010, it was working. The media loved her and, more significantly, treated her like a go-to authority on all educational issues. They fell all over themselves to grab the privilege of printing the next glowing description of the empress’s newest clothes. She was more than once packaged as the pro-reform counterpart of Diane Ravitch (though one thing that Rhee carefully and consistently avoided was any sort of head to head debate with actual education experts).

For the first part of the decade, it kept working. Students First became a powerhouse lobbying group, pushing hard for the end of teacher job protections. She was in 2011’s reform agitprop film Waiting for Superman. LinkedIN dubbed her an expert influencer. She spoke out in favor of Common Core and related testing. A breathless and loving bio was published about her in 2011; in 2013 she published a book of her own. She had successfully parleyed her DC job into a national platform.

2014 seemed like peak Rhee. I actually decided to stop mentioning her by name; I felt guilty about increasing her already-prodigious footprint. She seemed unstoppable, and yet by 2014 we knew that the TFA miracle classrooms, the DC miracle, the TNTP boondoggle, the StudentsFirst failures (far short of 1 million or $1 billion). Rhee was the Kim Kardashian of ed reform, the popular spokesmodel who did not have one actual success to her name. She was increasingly dogged by her controversies.

And then, in the fall of 2014, Michelle Rhee simply evaporated from the ed scene.

Greene traces the trajectory of her rise and fall in this post. What a spectacular rise it was, what an inglorious fall.

The parade has passed by, and she is no longer its leader. She is not even in it.

Michelle Obama surprised the staff and children of Randle Highlands Elementary School in D.C. by bringing them a box filled with $100,000 cash to buy whatever they need for the schools.

Valerie Strauss wondered why the school is unde-resourced, why teachers have to dig into their own pockets, when the city has a large surplus.

What about the schools where Ellen doesn’t send a gift of $100,000?

It really is a wonderful gesture, but public schools should not have to depend on charity to meet their basic needs.

Watch the video if you can. It really is heartwarming, and almost makes you forget that the city is failing to fund its schools.

Strauss writes:

Former first lady Michelle Obama recently walked into an elementary school in the nation’s capital and delivered a box with a stunning gift: $100,000 in cash, courtesy of entertainer Ellen DeGeneres. Children and adults screamed and jumped for joy when they saw the money in a genuinely heartwarming scene (that you can see below in the video Obama tweeted). And why not?

For one thing, Obama is, according to some polls, the most admired woman in the world. Having her show up at your school is a treat by itself. What’s more, the school can certainly use the money.

All of the mostly African American students at Randle Highlands Elementary School in Southeast Washington come from economically disadvantaged homes, according to D.C. Public Schools’ website, and Principal Kristie Edwards said in the video that many of the children are homeless or in the foster care system. Edwards says in the video that her school is in one of the “roughest” areas of the city, but that her students know they can expect “love and a hug” when they come to school — and that they will be safe.

As the box was opened, Obama said, “Ellen is giving you guys $100,000 to help you cover whatever business that you have for the schools, whether it is for the food pantry or whether it’s computer programs. We hope this will make sure that you will not have to go into your pockets any longer for these kids because we know how amazing you guys are.”

So what’s wrong with this picture?

“I had so much fun putting a smile on all of these little faces from Randle Highlands Elementary School in Washington, D.C. Thanks to the @TheEllenShow for letting me be a part of !”

The problem certainly is not a visit from a former first lady or an entertainer trying to help a school.

Rather, the problems are:

  • The funding system in U.S. public education leaves the poorest schools with the fewest resources
  • School system budgets do not provide most teachers with all the supplies they need to do their jobs — and this has been baked into the process for many years.
  • The D.C. government has had multimillion-dollar budget surpluses the past few years, and Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) is in charge of the school system. Why are there campuses that don’t have all of the supplies they need?

In her comments at Randle, Obama said she and DeGeneres hoped the $100,000 would “make sure that you will not have to go into your pockets any longer.” The reference reflected the fact that at least 94 percent of teachers nationally, according to the latest federal data, spend an average of nearly $500 of their own money on supplies, often for basics such as paper and pencils, tissue and furniture.


While we are on the subject of the District of Columbia, here’s an interesting tidbit.

Despite the drumbeat about “waiting lists,” charter enrollment declined, and enrollment in public schools increased. 

The numbers are not large but they seem to reflect a trend. Charter enrollment also declined in Michigan, DeVos’s domain.

Maybe parents are getting tired of schools that open and close like day lilies. There is something to be said for stability and experience.

At the same time, the traditional public school system experienced a 4 percent increase in enrollment, surpassing the 50,000-student threshold for the first time since 2006, figures from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education show.

Overall, enrollment in the District’s public schools — including charter and traditional public campuses — grew by 1.7 percent to 94,603 students in the 2019-2020 academic year, with the traditional system accounting for 54 percent of the city’s public school students…

The decline in charter school enrollment follows a rough year for the sector, with four campuses not reopening because of finances or poor academic performance. One of those schools, Democracy Prep Congress Heights, served 759 students.

A fifth school — AppleTree Early Learning in Southwest Washington — served 97 students and did not reopen because it could not secure a building.

And the D.C. Public Charter School Board, which is charged with overseeing the sector, said National Collegiate Preparatory Public Charter High must close at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year because of lackluster academic performance.

Valerie Jablow is a parent in D.C. whose blog follows the ethical scandals of public officials and the charter industry in her hometown.

This one is a doozy.

It is so crazy that I can’t summarize it.

Somewhere in this Pink Panther-style story are the moneymakers.

The guys who finance the real estate: Turner Agassi.

Tennis star Andre Agassi opened his own charter school in Las Vegas. He promised that every student would be accepted by a four-year college. Agassi donated $18 million to his school. The school was a disaster. Staff turnover was high. It was the worst performing charter in the state. It charter was turned over to NYC-based Democracy Prep.

Then equity investor Turner Capital offered to create a partnership with Agassi to build charter schools. That’s a lucrative business. Turner and Agassi hit the jackpot.

Disruption!  That’s the means and the end!


Former D.C. math teacher Guy Brandenburg attended the NAEP press conference in D.C. where Betsy DeVos explained what lessons the nation can lean from the NAEP results. 

DeVos thinks the rest of the nation should learn from D.C., which has the largest racial gaps of any urban district tested by NAEP; Or Florida, where test scores went down; or Mississippi, where scores rose even though it is at the very bottom of all stages tested by NAEP. When you are at the very bottom, it’s easier to “improve” your scores.

When Betsy DeVos is long forgotten, please do not forget that she held up Mississippi as a model for the nation!

Brandenburg wants the world to know that D.C. made its greatest gains before mayoral control.

I found that it is true that DC’s recent increases in scores on the NAEP for all students, and for black and Hispanic students, are higher than in other jurisdictions.

However, I also found that those increases were happening at a HIGHER rate BEFORE DC’s mayor was given total control of DC’s public schools; BEFORE the appointment of Michelle Rhee; and BEFORE the massive DC expansion of charter schools.

He has the data and graphs to prove it.

Since 2007, when the flamboyant Disrupter Michelle Rhee took charge of the schools of D.C. with an unlimited grant of power—no checks, no balances, no constraints—the cheerleaders for Disruption (aka “Reform”) have made bold claims about the D.C. “miracle.” This despite a major cheating scandal that Rhee swept under the rug and despite a graduation rate scandal that followed a nonsensical, false  claim by a high school that 100% of its students graduated.

Now this.

Blogger Valerie Jablow reports that the D.C. public schools face a major crisis of teacher attrition. 

In the wake of years of testimony about horrific treatment of DC teachers, SBOE last year commissioned a study by DC schools expert Mary Levy, which showed terrible attrition of teachers at our publicly funded schools, dwarfing attrition rates nationally.

An update to that 2018 study was just made available by SBOE and will be discussed at the meeting this week.

The update shows that while DCPS teacher and principal attrition rates have dropped slightly recently, they remain very high, with 70% of teachers leaving entirely by the 5-year mark (p. 32). Retention rates for DC’s charter schools are similar to those at DCPS–with the caveat that not only are they self-reported, but they are also not as complete and likely contain errors.

Perhaps the most stunning data point is that more than half of DCPS teachers leaving after 6 years are highly rated (p. 24). This suggests that the exodus of teachers from DC’s publicly funded schools is not merely a matter of weeding out poor performers (as DCPS’s response after p. 70 of this report suggests). Rather, it gives data credence to the terrifying possibility that good teachers are being relentlessly harassed until they give up and leave.

Sadly, that conclusion is the only one that makes sense to me, given that most of my kids’ teachers in my 14 years as a DCPS parent have left their schools–with only a few retiring after many years of service. Most of my kids’ teachers were both competent and caring. Perhaps not coincidentally, they almost always also lacked basic supplies that they ended up buying with their own money; were pressured to teach to tests that would be the basis of their and their principals’ evaluations; and feared reprisal for saying any of that.

(I’m hardly alone in that observation–read some teacher testimony for the SBOE meeting here, including that of a special education teacher, who notes that overwork with caseloads; lack of supplies; and increased class sizes for kids with disabilities are recurring factors at her school that directly lead to teacher burnout.)

In other words, high teacher attrition in DC’s publicly funded schools isn’t a bug but a feature.


A new movie will be released in a few days, telling the story of the D.C. voucher program.

The movie is called Miss Virginia, and the purpose of the movie is to persuade movie goers to love the idea of vouchers as a way to escape their”failing” public schools.

This is a bit reminiscent of the movie called “Won’t Back Down,” that was supposed to sell the miracle of charter schools. It had two Hollywood stars, it opened in 2,500 movie theaters, and within a month it had disappeared. Gone and forgotten. No one wanted to see it.

Mercedes Schneider doesn’t review the movie. Instead she reviews the dismal failure of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program [sic].

She guesses that  movie won’t mention any of the abysmal evaluations of the D.C. voucher program.

Surely, Miss Virginia thought she was helping her children by encouraging Vouchers. She made the mistake of trusting the rich white men like the Koch brothers, the Waltons, and Milton Friedman.

As Schneider shows, the D.C. voucher program is regularly evaluated, and the results are not pretty.


  • There were no statistically significant impacts on either reading or mathematics achievement for students who received vouchers or used vouchers three years after applying to the program.

  • The lack of impact on student academic achievement applied to each of the study’s eight subgroups of students: (1) students attending schools in need of improvement when they applied, (2) students not attending schools in need of improvement when they applied, (3) students entering elementary grades when they applied, (4) students entering secondary grades when they applied, (5) students scoring above the median in reading at the time of application, (6) students below the median in reading at the time of application, (7) students scoring above the median in mathematics at the time of application, and (8) students below the median in mathematics at the time of application.


  • The program had no statistically significant impact on parents’ satisfaction with the school their child attended after three years.

  • The program had a statistically significant impact on students’ satisfaction with their school only for one subgroup of students (those with reading scores above the median), and no statistically significant impact for any other subgroup.


  • The program had no statistically significant impact on parents’ perceptions of safety for the school their child attended after three years.


  • The program had no statistically significant impact on parents’ involvement with their child’s education at school or at home after three years.


  • The study found that students who received a voucher on average were provided 1.7 hours less of instruction time a week in both reading and math than students who did not receive vouchers.

  • The study found that students who received a voucher had less access to programming for students with learning disabilities and for students who are English Language Learners than students who did not receive vouchers.

  • The study also found that students who received vouchers had fewer school safety measures in place at their schools than students who did not receive vouchers.


  • The study found that 62% of the schools participating in the voucher program from 2013-2016, were religiously affiliated.

  • The study found that 70% of the schools participating in the voucher program from 2013-2016 had published tuition rates above the maximum amount of the voucher. Among those schools, the average difference between the maximum voucher amount and the tuition was $13,310.


  • The study found that three years after applying to the voucher program, less than half (49%) of the students who received vouchers used them to attend a private school for the full three years.

  • The study also found that 20% of students stopped using the voucher after one year and returned to public school, and 22% of students who received vouchers did not use them at all.

Parent activist Valerie Jablow is a whistle-blower about charter school abuse in the District of Columbia.

In this post, she describes the sweet deal that KIPP has worked out to its benefit.

It is a “game of insiders,” she writes.

Ferebee-Hope is a perfect example of how the mayor on down is enabled by law and practice to ignore every member of the public regarding the future of DCPS school facilities. In the case of Ferebee-Hope, however, the consequence of that disregard to the poorest ward in the city is dire–and appears to accrue directly to the benefit of one charter (and mayoral benefactor), KIPP.

Destroying Ward 8 Education Rights

Between November 2013 and January 2014, and about 6 months after public comment ended, a clause was inserted in the Comprehensive Planning and Utilization of School Facilities Amendment Act of 2014 that allows the mayor to turn any DCPS school over for a charter at any moment. (Yes, really: see D(ii) of that link to the law.) As DC public school expert Mary Levy has noted, there was no discussion of this clause by council members at the bill’s mark-up. Indeed, until the legislation was approved by the council in April 2014, no one in the public was aware at all of this provision (nor had a chance to object to it before it was approved).

In the case of Ferebee-Hope, it thus appears the mayor is simply exercising her right to turn the facility over for charter RFO without public deliberation.

But the loss of Ferebee-Hope as a school of right has far-reaching ramifications for Ward 8 DCPS schools of right, some of which are projected to be overcapacity in that area in less than a decade. Without Ferebee-Hope, there will be no way to accommodate those students in their schools of right in that area—which means that any student population in that area (currently very high and projected to grow 16% by 2025, per an August 8 community presentation by the deputy mayor for education (DME)) will inevitably benefit whatever charter school locates in Ferebee-Hope…

Charter schools in DC often complain that they struggle for facilities–but some appear a bit more, uh, equal to that struggle than others.

Indeed, this scheme ensures that whatever the public wants, or doesn’t want, with respect to their DCPS facilities can ultimately get reduced to whatever a charter school wants or doesn’t want–depending on how well-informed that charter school is, of course. Though we may never know the insider’s game here fully, certainly DCPS deputy chancellor Melissa Kim knows well KIPP’s ambitions, having worked for the charter before directly coming to DCPS as a central office administrator–and after showing no hesitation about the possibility of future DCPS closures.

Public facilities are simply closed and handed over without public involvement to private corporations. Anything wrong with that? Yes, everything. It is a theft of public property to give it away to a private charter corporate chain.